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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Stripers biting with smoky conditions
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Lake Lanier water levels are dropping about a half-foot each week and is currently at 1061.36 or 9.64 feet below the normal full pool of 1071. The main lake and mouths of the creeks are clear to stained.

The creeks are and the rivers are slightly stained to very stained. Lake surface temperatures have fallen considerably from last week and are in the lower 60s. The Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam is still stained due to lake turnover.

Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.

Bass fishing has been up and down, but you can catch them on a variety of lures and in many different locations.

Pick your strengths and, if you are in the right area, you should be able to catch at least a few. The ditch bite is still a week or two away, but we have caught a few up shallow in the ditches and on the flats next to the ditches this week.

There are some huge schools of threadfin shad in the creeks. Both keeper and smaller bass are gorging themselves on these small minnows.

Throwing larger lures may or may not produce results but it will weed out smaller fish. If you want to score numbers of bass, try downsizing your lures. Rooster Tails, spinnerbaits, Fish Head Spins, Jerk Minnows or small crankbaits will fool the bass that are charging through the threadfin schools as they feed up for winter.

There are also plenty of bass chasing large blueback herring, but these fish are on the move and can appear shallow or over deep water at any time.

A jerkbait like a SPRO McStick 110 will catch the bigger than average fish that are chasing herring. Jerk Minnows or Flukes are also a good choice. The sub-surface lures are a better bet this week as the top water action has been little more hit and miss.

Jigs around the drop offs, shaky heads on docks and drop shots in the brush piles from 15 to 30 feet have all been working well.

There have also been some fish that will eat a deep-diving crankbait like a SPRO DD or Fat Papa around rocky banks early and late in the day. Keep an open mind, fish your best areas and be willing to move around until your find actively feeding fish.

Stripers: I have seen a couple of reports stating that striper fishing is hit and miss, but all I can say is they seem to really like these smoky conditions where we have been fishing. You can cruise the lake first thing in the morning and look for stripers busting on the surface.

There’s some good schooling action down lake in the creek mouths and around the dam as well as up above Browns Bridge, River Forks and on up above Holy Park.

Most of these stripers are eating the plentiful threadfin shad so smaller baits are worth a try. Float small trout, smaller herring, medium sized shiners or even your best fresh caught bait on flat lines or planner boards behind the boat.

When you witness schooling fish, cast smaller lures to entice these fish into striking. Small topwater plugs, McRip 95s, Cane Thumpers on an underspin or a small SPRO Buck tail. Make long casts to surfacing fish and work your lures at a slow to medium retrieve all the way back to the boat. I have seen some acre size schools surfacing down by the dam and in the creek mouths this past week.

The Bomber and McStick bite has been on fire with the warmer than normal water temperatures. Cast a Pink Bomber Long A anytime the wind is blowing and stick with the same lure or down size to a SPRO McStick during calmer conditions.

The main lake islands below Browns Bridge on down to Lake Lanier Islands have held stripers after dark Crappie fishing is good and there have been both shallow and deeper fish. If the shad are in the area then most brush from 5 to 25 feet will hold crappie in the creeks and pockets. Some brush piles may be void of fish while others may hold the mother load.

Crappie swim in schools, so when you catch one, throw or troll back through the area to catch several more.

It pays to have a few dozen crappie minnows with you even, if you are a jig angler. After working a brush pile that has quit producing with jigs alone, either tip your jig with a live minnow or move over the brush and down line minnows.

Trolling has worked well. Place out several rods on each side of your boat and troll slow! One good set up is to place your longest rods (12 foot is not too long) in the front of the boat then stagger them shorter toward the back of the boat.

This will allow you to separate your lines. Tie two jigs on your line, one at the bottom and another a foot above it. Use light crappie jigs and vary the colors until one continues to out produce the others.

Crappie will move shallow around dock lights. Small jigs or live minnows will catch these fish. You can still put out lights around bridges and catch some slabs after dark.

Trout fishing has improved and is good up in the mountains and also on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. The old reliables like Rooster Tails, Rapalas or live earth worms (where live bait is permitted) will catch fish both up north and below Buford Dam.

Fly fishing has been producing some good fish in the northern streams and rivers. There have only been a few hatches (maybe bugs don’t like smoke), so midges or pre-emergents may work better. Try a double-drop rig with a small nymph up high and a small midge on the drop.

Bank fishing: Inline spinners like a Mepps, Rooster Tail or other brands get mentioned a lot in these weekly reports because they catch a variety of fish.

All you need is a spinning reel with 4 to 8-pound monofilament and a white and silver Rooster Tail.

With this set up you can catch several species of fish from the shores of Lake Lanier and your local farm pond or for trout below Buford Dam.

Take the family out for a Picnic at any of the several parks around Buford Dam or your favorite local park on Lake Lanier.

Bass and Stripers can be caught from the banks around the dam and other places both up and down lake this week.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. He would love to hear from his readers, so please email him at or visit his website at or Remember to take a kid fishing!

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